Sotomayor slams controversial remarks by prosecutor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two members of the Supreme Court took the unusual step of speaking out over racially insensitive remarks by a federal prosecutor in a drug case, when rejecting review of the defendant's appeal.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a strongly worded statement Monday, saying the prosecutor's remarks about an African-American suspect were "an affront to the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws."
The prosecutor--whom Sotomayor refused to name--said during cross-examination of a drug conspiracy case: "You've got African-Americans, you've got Hispanics, you've got a bag full of money. Does that tell you--a light bulb doesn't go off in your head and say, This is a drug deal?"
Sotomayor, the only Hispanic on the high court, agreed with the majority that the appeal should be rejected for a variety of procedural reasons, but was nevertheless adamant on her larger point.
"It is deeply disappointing to see a representative of the United States resort to this basic tactic more than a decade into the 21st century," she said. "We expect the government to seek justice, not fan the flames of fear and prejudice."
Sotomayor--backed by Justice Stephen Breyer--also criticized the Justice Department for its initial tepid reaction to the remarks, with officials telling an appeals court they were only "impolitic."
"I hope never to see a case like this again," concluded Sotomayor.
The case is Calhoun v. U.S. (12-6142).